how to make your yard bigger.

Okay. Maybe not. There is no how-to on making your property lines bigger {unless you want to start a feud with your neighbors.} But you can definitely work with what you have, and in our case, it would be “how to bring that fence up, and stop wasting your side yard.”

Last week, in the grand tradition that is me showing you embarrassing things about our back yard, and in continuing the grand saga that is the killer pecan tree {Bertha and all her issues…} we decided it was good to start with the whole first-things-first issue of making our yard bigger, and really utilizing our space, to bring our fence up.

When we first moved in, our street was brand spankin’ new. We were the first home, and there were empty lots on either side. At the time, there was no way to tell where the other homes would be situated, let alone their fence lines. So we simply told the house people {whoever installs fences round these here parts} to install the fence on the back. It “came with the house,” after all. Then the other homes were built, so they simply added their fences to ours.

And that was awkward.

The back yard felt pretty limiting and small and “BO-WING” as Emerson would say. We live on a horrible hill, so the kids can’t really play in the front yard, and people drive like they’re on crack.

But we have this fabulous potential-filled side porch, right off our kitchen we’ve never really used that was in plain view from the street. We never really used it, because it was awkward to be all, ‘SUP, NEIGHBAHS!?’ While I sipped my morning cup-o-joe. {Our kitchen window was also in plain view, which always made us feel weird at night when we took our blinds down and needed to sneak into the laundry room in our skivvies. Yeah. we were probably those people.} So, needless to say, we needed a little privacy, and we decided to make our yard “bigger.”

First things first: it never hurts to get a quote from the local friendly neighborhood fence builder people. If anything, so you can know how much moolah you actually save when you cave and do it yourself.

Quote = 1500.

Reeling from that one, we decided to do it ourselves. And by ‘we,’ homey don’t really play that. So I mean Jamin.

Our cost = 325. {wood only = 275-we had to purchase a few tools} Major savings, no? Here’s what you’ll need {a main list of materials} if you decide to do the same: quantity will be according your own measurements:

• 4 x 4 x 8 posts

• 6 foot tall 5/8 in thick planks {fence posts}

• 2 x 4 x 10 cross beams that run from post to post

• 2 in exterior screws {planks to 2 x 4 : translation: planks to cross beams}

• 2.5 in exterior screws {2 x 4 held 4 x 4 : translation: attached the 2 x 4’s to the posts}

• one bag of quick crete per hole you plan to dig for the posts

• post hole digger {another option would be to rent or purchase an auger for around 250 smacks}

• a friend to help you. In our case, these were minions. I’m telling you, I only play the “my husband’s a youth minister” card when it comes in handy over here. And we have an ample supply of minions. Thank you, minions.

Step 1: Dig the holes, and make sure they’re in a straight line. {8-10 ft Depending on how far apart you want them.} We used some weed eater cord as a guide for the straight line and make sure we were on our property. {they look crooked in the photo below as it was before the concrete}

Mix the concrete {according to the directions} and place each post in its hole. This will take two people-one to hold while another fills. It will stand fine on its own, once its done. {Another option would be to go head and use an extra 2 x 4 or 1 x 4 x 10, as a temp brace to hold the posts together so they all stay at the same distance while drying. Make sure its level and straight as you go, or else your fence will be the Pippi Longstocking special, your neighbors will think you were intoxicated, and the regulation mcfussy britches people will ask you to take it down.}

Regarding drying time: if its in the sun, its takes about 3 hrs to set, and if not, about half a day. After the concrete has set, measure your posts from the ground up: 12, 39 + 66 inches. These will be where your secondary pieces {cross bars} will go.

Start attacthing the 2x4s at those heights, using a 2.5 inch screw (at least-or a 3 inch if not bigger.) Most people use a nail gun. Why did we use a screw? We were able to readjust when I came out of the house and told Jamin he was doing it wrong. {read: our nailgun was broken, but using a screw really had its benefits for adjusting the rogue planks}

pause: anyone here see how much yard we’re gaining? I’m still totally pumped!

Once they’re up, its time for the planks. How did we do it? Eyeball. Decide how far you want them apart. A note on distance: if you do this in the winter: leave room for the wood to expand. {about 1/8 of an inch} and in the summer, you can go closer. Get someone to help you watch from the other side to make sure you’re putting it level. That was my job. We worried more about how it looked on the top, going across, than on the bottom.

We had an audience…

Gate: For our new gate, {the skeleton of it} we used our old gate. For a few days, we had our old gate propped up to keep Chloe corralled, {here, she’s peeking into the neighbor’s yard} and I know all our neighbors were ready to pick up the phone and call the yard police.

In these photos, you can see the basic shape. We didn’t have to build a frame, but one wouldn’t be difficult to make. Its a square frame from 2 x 4’s with braces. Simply attach your frame wherever you wish to hang your door, then add the planks. Its not as heavy this way, and you can make sure you get all the planks straight from there. Simply place the planks on top of the frame, in the same way you made the rest of the fence.

At the end, attach the latch.

TADA! Yes, we have a lot more work to do, but its a start. And its a good start.

side note: You may notice that the inside of our fence is different than our outside. Our neighborhood has rules that the solid part of the fence must face the outside. We will simply come back later, and add planks if we decide it bothers us enough.

But for now, we’ve added an entire additional side yard. At a fraction of the cost. What’s something you want to do, no matter how small, to improve your yard’s status? We’re kinda pleased as punch with our new addition. {No more skivvy spottings!}


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6 Responses to how to make your yard bigger.

  1. To improve my yards status, I would like to replace my wooden deck with some of the synthetic wood choices! Can I just say “Splinters! galore” it makes me hate wood decks! I wish I could find some 1/2 price!!! Or almost free-would be better!

  2. Hailey says:

    OMG…we are building a new fence this weekend! Thanks for sharing, as we are basically doing the exact same thing (except we had to tear down an old fence first, that was about a foot on our side, but was the neighbors, and kept falling down into our yard!). We are also adding a new patio, two sets of steps, gravel driveway and lots of landscaping!! I am so excited :)

  3. Heather says:

    My husband desperately wants to do this for our side yards! We would gain a ton of space as well because our front yard is on an outward curve of the road making it much wider toward the front. Now we need to find some minions! :)

  4. maggie says:

    This is great! A huge bit of my son’s fence came down this past winter (along with a tree) and he’s planning to re-do that whole side. I’ll pass this along to him.
    I hope it comes out as well as yours did!

  5. MJ says:

    Love that your husband’s students helped out! My hubs is a youth minister, too, and his “minions” often help out with projects around our house! I always have Popsicles or cookies at the ready and they’re more than happy to help out. :)

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